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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 19, 2013 3:00pm-4:00pm EST

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when you talk to your kids? is a very foreign to what they know? >> it is different, yet there is enough of that sentiment that survives that they can easily believe that it was as bad as it once. they can look back through the lens of their current experience
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i'm not saying that it just exists in the south. i know it exist everywhere. yes come you can still see signs of it. >> you have inserted in your book no alabama. what is that? >> it is my fourth-grade alabama history textbook. i remember. i was about nine or 10 years old. it was the way they pertain to civil war and the antebellum period. when i was fully adult i came upon that book in the represented section of the public library in tuscaloosa. i was stunned to see how racist
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language was and how appalling it is for the institution of slavery. >> the negro, mammy, comes ringing a great tray of food. you have known her all your life and love her very much is here is the book, "darkroom: a memoir in black and white", lila quintero weaver is the author. the university of alabama is the publisher. you write that you were surprised to see african-americans when he first arrived in alabama. >> yes, because argentina, it is where i was in the first years of my life -- where i was raised. there are indigenous people in
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argentina. they mostly live away from the city and we really didn't encounter african-americans. >> next on booktv, paul dickson presents a collection of words popularized american presidents. the author includes warren harding's founding father who gives them an military address. this is a little under one hour. [applause] thank you very much. i have been playing around with words for a long time. i think when i was a kid, one of
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my weaknesses was i wasn't that athletic were smart in various ways. i can always go home and memorize some words like apathetic and things like that. reading was a lot of fun. as i got to be older, i was fascinated by doing tricks with words. one of my favorite exercises was when my kids were young. they worshiped the guinness book of world records. i was looking at at it, it had 137 meetings. but it was the word with the most meanings. the word sets.
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so i started working on a collection of words for junk, and i have gone for about seven or eight collections, people have actually added to the collection and last 72 hours. we are now up to almost 3000 words. what was interesting about it was it was not meant to be a celebration of what is a social ill, but it was the phenomenal what the english languages. what really got me was looking at all the other people who had collected a list of drunkenness from their time. ambrose pierce, links and use, they had all been sorted fascinated by the fact that their moment in history, that there were are the euphemisms used for junk.
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during the book, i had a lot of help, some people are in this room tonight. they go back to chaucer and shakespeare and a lot of them are unscrambling euphemisms and in shakespeare's writings especially. for example he comes in the room like he's squinting. the sum is in his eyes. i have written a number of books, more than a dozen books about language. they range from very serious books like a baseball dictionary which has been in three editions. and i look at the language is a recreation. it gets me into recreational linguistics is a way to use language as a placing.
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language being used as recreation. it's the most efficient use of the word help in the english language. i can namer worlds with knock knock jokes because they're basically wordplay. this book got me started. another of books on language as well. i thought it was an interesting discovery, which was the word rounding fathers. the phrase did not go back to the early days of the republic, but was created by warren harding for the 1920 campaign. he actually used it once in 1918, but it was really his phrase. referring to those people who wrote the constitution. before that, and at first i got
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someone to back me up on it. but the idea was it was never used as a descriptor for the constitution. and it's inteor the constitution. and it's interesting also that it really didn't take off until 1931 on the book was written called founding fathers. it was immediately adopted by both sides of the aisle. there are some of the early uses . dreamers is often used as a
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negative. the founding fathers never meant press to have pastel colored poster stamps. it was sort of a collective detail on certain things. i was fascinated with harding. his misuse of the language was so intense. there was a term that was a description of how badly harting murdered the language. that harding had an interesting ability to create words. very pompously. it was also that he picked up a very old word that had old used except in chemistry or, normalcy existed in chemistry for his
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state of normality. it was during his 1920 from porch campaign during the harding errors that we first heard a return to normalcy. of course, everybody immediately threw up their hands and the language police went crazy and said bush may be right. it was an often a major calamity of people don't really have it considered to be a proper word. so they said something the other day and it is nothing more than a unit of communication. so i started looking into this. a lot of research and looking
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into the presidents. the storyline in this, it is in a tizzy buck. so some of this stuff is funny and some of it is not so funny. what's really the nexus of the whole thing is if you look back at the early beginnings of this country and the whole concept of language and what this country was. there is a letter written between benjamin franklin and noah webster. in which they talk about the witness acts of rebellion against the british. and the use of various words to talk about it. but they are really sort of american acts to identify who we are as a people. one of the acts is public libraries. coming to this country, his father came smuggling a bible.
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he tells benjamin at one point that one of the things we could do is be a printer. the idea that when england come at that time, when his father came over, i was very interested in these definitions and so when he creates a free library of philadelphia, is seen as an act of resistance against the british. noah webster saves us through history. it was also part of these acts against the british. webster is one of the early people and jefferson is probably
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the lead on this. he creates words with great abandon and he just loves to create words and chuck a jibe at the british with words. write a letter to john adams and says, our duty as americans -- he creates the word meola jives and jefferson is creating all these words. he created ottoman for the footstool. jefferson was the coiner or introducer, the first one to actually bring them into the mainstream and the list is
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really sort of fascinating. pedicure is his world. mono crowd is his word. the one that he does the most weight and becomes the most egregious is the word belittled. he creates the word a little. he knows what he's up to and he knows he's creating something is going to be very disturbing. noah webster loves the word and one of his teachers at yale writes in a letter about the word. the british hate the word to the extent that one scholar comes out with modern english usage, the first edition, dollar is still attacking the word it creates a sort of disturbed
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approach to the british. one of webster's presets was that the american language be descriptive other than prescriptive. it would not be dictated by a single authority. it would be the language of the trapper and farmer and tradesmen. so when webster really starts to talk about this, he is at the end of the revolutionary war and he is in the camp and there are large groups of people there are american indian groups and others, people speaking hessian and people speaking german. the camp fires are burning and webster says, we are going to
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have to figure out how to make this language the american language. right from the beginning he is adept at picking up indian words like creek instead of brooke. things that the english are very upset about. john smith introduces the word raccoon. which means he washes his face with his hands. which is raccoon and anything anymore. and they would pick up words like cafeteria and haciendas. again, this was seen as acts of defiance. it was very clear right through when madison comes up with his own definitions. his word was squire. it just came out of his head.
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a name for somebody who is illegally possessing someone else's property. john adams came up with a bunch, caucus which he gets from an indian term. spec, meaning i something on speculation. don quixote, john quincy adams, when he was pretty much -- when it came to the alien and sedition acts, he came up with the word gag rule. so you see with the early presidents, this ability to sort of watch things and write them down and use them. so when george washington looked up the word and can, you'll find about word is accredited to george washington. washington came up with these words at a very early time.
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[inaudible] this is part of our early culture. of course, the fact that we had webster to write this all down is rather amazing. webster comes up with his first dictionary in 1807 and there are two words that really bother the british. congressional and presidential and they say that there is no reason you it should be in the dictionary. between 18 1807 1807 and a second edition, he knows that this is the stuff that is not in english dictionary at the time.
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there was the sort of democratic background. and there are things, for example, jefferson creates, which are hysterical. he comes up with twisting words will come, something like george bush would come up with. there are some wonderful things. on the cd-r -- seedier side of things, it is credited to thomas jefferson. again, i'm using the early form of nailing down when the word was created. you can tell that i had a lot of fun doing this. the other challenge was looking at how this progress, who was
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really clever and remarkable and who is really smart. president johnson, the first president johnson, he is the first one to come up with discrimination. the first time it was ever used in the distinction between race and religion and etc. so by giving it a name and it's starting to have its own life. i'm jumping ahead a little bit, but in 1934, roosevelt was going to give his annual address to congress. the president would give an address to the nation and to the congress. and it was called the state of the union. a lot of these terms were sort
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of created by presidents -- we think they are from day one. in fact, they are ones that have been added later. and again, some of them are just wonderful. just jumping to a couple, zachary taylor created the term first lady. he applied it to dolly madison but it was the first that anyone had ever used that term. the first lady of the land. benjamin harrison was jumping around a little bit and woodrow wilson had potomac fever, which was something that harry truman loved to quote. politics is adjourned was woodrow wilson, watchful waiting was very appropriate. first with his relationship with dictatorship in mexico, feeling that we should go in and
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intervene wilson said no, this is watch and wait. once the war started, world war i, that was attributed back to him. for whatever reason, it is now primarily used in the diagnosis of certain illnesses. rather than treat them immediately, you go through a period of watchful waiting. some words like lucretius are interesting. mckinley -- the spanish-american war started. he has a telephone, telegraph, and he clears up the room and says up the telephone and declares this is my war room. that term did not exist until then. still jumping around, you know,
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it is calvin coolidge who comes down from massachusetts where he's put down a police strike and he goes to the convention and he is the law and order candidate. it was the first time it had ever been used as a political motto. there are a couple of things that are in the book that are not american but came from overseas. on that sort of threw me was the first person to use social security was winston churchill. in an essay about modern society. he is the one who created the
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term social security. some people did really well with this. going through a list of who are the most powerful presidents in terms of language, i think that you have to have roosevelt who is way up there. in 1937 he gives a press conference and he is talking about the supreme court and for some of the decisions of this court, if you ask me, they are iffy. and the next day they talk about the president creating the word effete. the five or six years, anytime they said pardon me but this is iffy. of course, slang gets people in
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trouble. with the wilson is a great waster. one of the things was what could move on. and he used a lot of campaign type of words. he would come up with these accurate sims, you know and the guardians of the language were just appalled by his use of it. he just loved to play around with language. presidents do get in trouble. i'm not even going to mention george bush. but the biggest is probably teddy roosevelt who writes a letter to the head of the english department at harvard university. and that created its own thing.
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quite articulate and comes up with some domino theory type words. in his second novel, he said before we can finalize our plans, and the word finalize with such a discordant tone. there were editorials all over the country, people wringing their hands, there was a special column defending eisenhower were creating this verb. they hadn't even heard prioritize yet. it was the same resort of reaction. counterproductive was another one. the first example they can find
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is counterproductive, which sounds like a military term, once well untrammeled someone within war room. i'm building up to who i think is the king of them all. but lyndon johnson he picked up a couple. again, i'm using every thing i can find. pressing the flesh was a johnson is on. lady byrd johnson comes up with motorcade. it's picked up by time magazine. there was no example of that in writing before. richard nixon had some nice
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ones. expletive deleted is really his. when they go over the watergate trial, it became its own sort of curse word. another one was really interesting at the time. talking about winding down the war. george h. w. bush had his own words.
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the cheap shot was to say that these were all off the wall. the word resume came into the english language in 1531 and one other words of the words it was always attributed to him which was stranded jury, was actually a creation of saturday night live. [laughter] with the one you can really hang in business under estimate. there have been several pretty well-known people about language online. many top riders have said it is
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under estimate by mistake, what happens to all of us. so it may not be words like normalcy which will gradually become a more acceptable thing. the king of them all has to be -- even though jefferson wins on volume -- it has to be teddy roosevelt. he just goes up and down. pacifist is his. euphemisms, words that are demeaning like weasel.
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he had these analogies and looted lunatic fringes has any comes up with it in reference to the expressionism and he sees that the sending of it and there is a movement of transit takes over. roosevelt got invisible government, he has enough factors under his belt, he has great lakes fleet, which is what he does around the world and it attributes a phenomenal power to
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pioneer children all over the world and animals with codes of behavior and act from biblical precision. of course, he comes with this term and crusades against them. one of my favorites is william safire, a lot of this stuff is deeply involved. and i did a lot of research with some of these terms. the term that teddy roosevelt used was loose cannon. noncanonical sense of a cannon, but meaning the erratic, a
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person out of control. the person who was a loose cannon. so you can go on with teddy roosevelt, through the book, the other one is good to the last drop. which was the famous maxwell house saying, and he says oh, it's good to the last shot. before you know it, they have a national brand using teddy roosevelt's slogan. maybe the first and only president to have an advertising slogan. so i figure the next question that everyone wants to know is how this president obama -- what has he done that's interesting? well, he has yet to really make a mark.
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he's done a couple of interesting things. shovel ready is really his. they totally spontaneous one is snowmaggedon. the whole city is shut down. he gives a public address and looks out and says this is snowmaggedon. the other one that is his as well, in 2011 he used the term sputnik moment. seeing that this country needed a challenge. an outside moment that would regenerate our interest research and development and education. it may have been too an younger
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generation. but most of the slogans had not really caught on. the first summer he's in washington, he said it is a strange concept, but in august, this is the time when washington becomes hard to get done. nobody knows what that means but it somehow applicable. does anyone have any questions? yes ma'am. >> i'm surprised you didn't mention the popular ones that we think of. were some presidents just that
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regular words? >> truman had some nice thihad . each one was kind of different. truman had -- they all have stories. we say a truman-ism is where he was having a lot of trouble with congress. and he brought up the word trocar, which is an instrument used to relieve pressure in organic places. in the perry in missouri, when a bowler cal --
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a cow or a full would ingest too much error, they would ingest this trocar and it would create a whistling sound and he said that it was a trocar with congress. [laughter] he carve it in a piece of wood and hung it above his desk. there is eloquence. i really didn't address presidential eloquence. but i think i was looking more for the keywords.
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i think i've got five pages on the book of the new deal. roosevelt -- everyone of his aides say that he invented the term. but he was meeting with one of mark twain's distant relatives. and he insisted that he was a dainty and king arthur's court. he stands up and says you guys need a new deal. and that was from that time. and the other one was i'm working on another book by
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writers. if you remember the old laugh and shout, there is always a picture of mark twain. they were the first ones to use the word phrase sock it to me. the other day i just found a book that said if you read all of paradise lost carefully, you'll find all hell breaking loose, which i thought was a nice modern term that we use. yes, sir? >> comment and question. first is relative to the words. i don't think english is the number one language anymore. we don't speak english, we speak united states.
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>> yes, there was a guy earlier in 1920, a dictionary came out with historical principles. and there were 50,000 words which were american in origin. many of them having to do with names and descriptions and things like that. but they were american innovators. one of the things that webster said in 1807, the first webster dictionary he says in 50 years the predominance of english will be american. americanism is jefferson's own work. >> franklin roosevelt had fireside chats. did he claim that he came up
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with that phrase? or was it the commentator that introduced in? butcher was on cbs, he was the guy who invented him. roosevelt wasn't prepared for it. robert trout was the one who introduced him for the fireside chat. but the word -- he wasn't sure at first. but again, a quick digression. but i've done some baseball writing. one of the things i found out is that when roosevelt started to write the fireside chats, he's a slightly aristocratic individual and he wants to talk to the american people. and he feels that he is coaching them out of the depression.
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and he starts using baseball heavily. and he said, you know, i just can't get the first base of this legislation where there is some member of the opposite party. so he would use these metaphors. it was then picked up by eisenhower. it is based on football. and that sort of becomes a big change in language. the president takes on a popular metaphor for explaining things. and it was explained in much more legislative, bureaucratic type of language. where all this of a sudden we just can't get to first base. >> [inaudible question]
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>> that's a good question. i mean, they have had them all along, so there are some people who argue that some of the best up was written by speechwriters. there's a question as to whether or not eisenhower actually wrote military-industrial complex or wasn't really one of his aides. maybe they have homogenized it. i still think that there has to be some degree of spontaneity. i think probably what obama said snowmaggedon, which was an obvious blend of snow and armageddon, that he probably just had that pop into his head. again, it may have dumped him down to some degree. president obama -- he had about 20 slogans.
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together we win and so i think sometimes maybe some of the crispness goes out of it. but it's a good question. a guy like bob organ that we all know each writer for gerald ford. i suspect that he was actually a great asset to gerald ford and came up with some really great stuff. yes, ma'am? >> i think it's very interesting -- john woods said speak united states. could you talk about that? iraq sure. in upstate new york, we had very
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broken english at times. and he said he speak united states. [talking over each other] >> [inaudible] so we all speak the language that we created here. it was created by the president and the people who use the language. >> and the writers themselves. in doing this other book, i am drifting into another book that i started writing. but there is sometimes one of writer will just come up with something that nobody can understand. when at scott fitzgerald writes, they say what is a t-shirt? and he sort of made it up, meaning what was a shirt that he would just go on. but often writers and presidents
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will quote a word on purpose as an effort to create stir, sort of a moment of interest in what they are doing. like factoid, which is the most improper type of word. it was not a fact of all, it was a piece of conventional wisdom that was wrong. now it is being used as a small fact. yes, sir? >> was it important it something not be forgotten from the white house? >> absolutely, that's the whole point of creating this collection of words. it's like i quoted earlier.
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the word is a single unit of communication. just because you're not in the dictionary doesn't really mean anything. there is no reason -- i have been working for years to create a couple words, i created a word that needed places where people come from. and it gets into this book even. works george washington creates michigander and then later they say the goose and gander. but i have tried mightily. but now that it's on c-span comments live. [applause] >> [inaudible question]
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>> it depends on popular use. one thing that sort of came out of the 80s was humongous. there's no reason that words in the english language. these two kids are probably walking on the street in los angeles and they are like i have this humongous exam tomorrow and i haven't studied. if so that the word. if the situation. it spread like wildfire. over the years people have studied words of the great mystery of anthropology. part of the joke from los angeles to johannesburg in three days that there is a bookschley
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a couple of british folklorists. they talk about dish's. >> you can't imagine that he came up with this word himself. he must've heard it from a garden or someone in the street. but he is the first one to ever write it down and define it, chickadee, which is you know, is not poetic, which is made to sound like what it is. try to say it without a smile. you know, forgetting all the greek and latin sense. that is part of it also. the word has it that.
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you can't just be something that is created to be funny. yes actually fit the situation. >> finalize and prioritize -- i wish i knew the meaning for that. so whether we adopt and pick up on it, how does it become part of this? [inaudible] >> there is a camera and a microphone. you can't really say that it's not a word. because it is obvious that it has a meaning of communication.
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the fact is that you knew what they meant. it was a unit of communication and it worked. and it might be as useful as a word that makes other people in the room -- >> [inaudible question] do you have ideas on trends like that? finalizing a word and prioritizing a word? [inaudible question] >> i have to go with the jurisdiction and find out what it is about this beautiful singer. that worked. laxity and black device there some kind of distant language that could be related to that.
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hopefully people will -- you know. there is -- there are purists out there. but i have done some work and i have talked to people who write dictionaries. they don't run around wringing their hands saying the language is bad and going over the cliff. they say that it changes and evolves and there are a lot of examples of words that were once a mother with wave. the word an apron was originally action and the word that migrated from it if you can see this, it became a napkin. i don't have the paperwork on us, but one that migrated,
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language changes. it is wonderful. one of the most recent works, which is just out now, 2890 words. we are trying to get to 3000 words. they all have to be verified. one of my favorites is thanks -- feng shui.
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[laughter] >> [inaudible question] >> everybody hollers and hoots and throws themselves on the floor and it was meant to be an emphasis. language in this country, especially in this country, it is a daily thing. if 2 million english teachers or school teachers tomorrow say that regardless of what you say, hopefully i'm wrong, but if all those people are saying this, it's going from barbarism to part of the way we talk. so i don't get worked up about your regardless. we've got about five minutes here.
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>> [inaudible question] >> in fact, fowler, he was the original one who brought it up and he had been using these words before that. there are other people who have done massive studies is the modern language besides breakout, we can see that. >> in the book you talk about the presidents were there or who they had for aids that made up words as well? >> i do, have a subcategory. i do have the words that come after them.
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like herbert hoover at some -- who rides meant to be careful of not wasting food. hooverize. do not waste food. yes, ma'am. >> is it harder for a modern president to contribute words? >> it's probably a little bit harder. but if you just look at the language that has been created by the internet and what has been created in the last 20 it just may happen by chance. when lincoln creates lincoln is
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a talking about secession. he said you are sugarcoating the picture of this country. the printers that we cannot put this in the official record. and he said i can't imagine no american not knowing what sugarcoating men's. this goes back to william safire's influence. one of the first uses of cool, not in a sense the sense of temperature but in the sense of being callous, he said that was a behavioral thing. those are words, words like cool. obama could come up with a new meaning for it as well. he could take his own word and given a new meaning. how either this was i did a lot
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of reading and i did a lot of use of huge proprietary databases that the libraries tab. nineteenth century databases where we can actually find the original document in which jefferson writes to the danbury caucus and comes up with a phrase of separation of church and state, which is not in the constitution. in fact it was first articulated in this letter by jefferson. so there were these big huge data proprietary bases where there is about every word and phrase. mckinley came out -- i read a book years ago when he comes up with war room.
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that was an easy one. i think we are down to about one question here. >> where did mulligan come from? >> a mulligan has an extra shot when he hit the first one. meaning that you could get to take the shot. it existed beforehand, but it's only when eisenhower starts playing golf. so "the new york times" has to give a great explanation of a mulligan. it's sort of a goal purslane. it is sort of a golfer's word. it's like murphy's law. thank you


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